Receiving the Second Covid-19 Vaccine Dose: My Experience

You may remember that I wrote about my experience receiving the first Covid-19 vaccine dose. Yesterday, I received the second dose. I’d like to chronicle the event for those who are interested.

Due to no fault of their own, the McLean County Health Department had to twice cancel my appointment because of weather. Of course, this was quite distressing. To their credit, however, they were very good about emailing me and keeping me informed.

Although it seemed to take forever, I eventually got a date and time assigned to me. They urged me to try to make that particular date and time, and I was more than happy to comply.

I finally received the second vaccine dose yesterday morning, once again at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington, IL. Because the MCHD had several days of missed appointments to make up, there were many more people present than during my first visit. Fortunately, the MCHD once more kept it well organized and moving as quickly as possible. Though I had to wait in line several times, I never waited more than a minute or two until things started moving again.

Just like last time, I made my way down the stairs to the floor of the arena and soon sat at a technician’s station. I may have had the best technician in the world because I barely even felt the needle. I actually wasn’t totally sure she’d even given me the shot.

Again, I waited a few moments in a holding area to make sure I didn’t have any immediate adverse reactions before making my way back to work.

Because I know of several people who had a very rough time after receiving their second dose, I made sure to be as prepared as possible. I had several bottles of water and Gatorade waiting for me at work and sipped on them all afternoon in order to stay hydrated.

After coming home, I made a point to try to keep to business as usual. I didn’t sit down and rest much: I kept active and stuck to the typical routine. Though my arm was a little sore, I didn’t feel any negative symptoms other than being tired. Of course, it had been a busy day, so I might have simply been … tired. Around 7:30 p.m., I laid down on the couch for a few minutes and took a quick nap.

My wife and I watched a few shows, and by the time I went to bed around 10:30 p.m., I still didn’t feel all that different other than having a sore arm. To be honest, I fully expected to wake up feeling sick because that seemed to be the case with many people I know.

I’m happy to report that when I woke up this morning, I felt pretty much fine. At this point, I still do. I received my second dose well over twenty-four hours ago, so I don’t expect any side effects at all from here on out. My arm is still sore, I’m still drinking lots of water and Gatorade, but I think I was fortunate enough to escape the fever, chills, headaches, and body aches others seem to be enduring.

My sincere thanks to the McLean County Health Department. This is a gargantuan task they are executing. Yet, from the arena workers to the technicians, everyone I encountered were friendly, cordial, and professional. Other than the initial sign-up process, everything pertaining to the operation has been exemplary.

On Receiving My First Dose Of the Covid-19 Vaccine

Today I received my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington, IL. I’m happy to report that it was a very smooth, easy experience.

I’ll detail the entire process for you.

Quite honestly, the most difficult aspect of the situation occurred during the sign up. McLean County Health Department opened up a few dates at their website for the vaccine and they filled up within minutes. Luckily, I had a friend on top of things and he notified me that the sign up was happening. I visited the site (found here), and managed to secure the 19th. However it was a bit of a free-for-all and I know of several people who didn’t get signed up in time. The great irony is that I had signed up to receive notice when those dates would become available, but I didn’t receive that notice until about thirty minutes after they were all gone. Thank goodness for my friend who messaged me! The good news is that the MCHD has reacted to the overwhelming response and would like you to call this number with any questions about scheduling an appointment when more dates become available.

My time arrived and so I headed to the arena. I pulled right into the arena parking garage (found here in green) and easily found a space on the first level–free parking during my visit, by the way. From there I walked to the back of the garage and moved along the side of the arena towards North Madison Street. Once I reached North Madison Street, I walked a few feet along the front of the arena and entered a small set of doors about twenty feet before you reached the main doors to the entrance.

Once inside, make sure you have your state identification, your insurance card, and a work badge of some sort. As an educator, I’m part of the Phase 1B, so I had to prove my credentials.

Someone greeted me at the door and asked my appointment time. I told them, they asked if I had any trouble with stairs, and then I moved along to a second table about thirty feet away. There I had to name my appointment time again and show my identification. They also had a form for me to fill out with basic information about my insurance, contact information, and general health. My work provided this sheet ahead of time, so I had it all filled out and ready to go. Finally, they wanted to know if I had any trouble with stairs. I followed a series of markers on the floor and noticed there were places to stand six feet apart if waiting in line.

They moved me along to a third table, this time about fifty feet away. Again, they asked my appointment time, verified my identity, and asked if I had any trouble with stairs. They also made sure I had correctly filled out my form. Again, there were plenty of markers on the floor to guide my way, though it was pretty obvious where to go.

I’d like to take a moment to say that everyone I encountered to that point were extremely friendly, helpful, and capable. (This would be true of my whole venture.)

I was then told to use a particular set of doors which would lead me down to the arena floor. I had to descend several steep stairs, as you would expect at an arena, and all of the questions about stairs suddenly made more sense.

They had divided the arena floor in half. Half of it contained about twenty-five stations with health workers administering the vaccine. The other half of the arena floor consisted of several chairs divided up into quadrants–these were recovery areas. Some of the chairs were solitary and six feet away from any other chairs, some were set up for couples but also spaced away from any neighbors.

They again had marked the floor for people to stand. They had us following the edge of the arena floor from our entry point upon the floor to the entrance to the vaccine stations. I didn’t wait long at all. Before I knew it, I was seated in front of a health care worker (and, as it turns out, a former student). I got my shot, got a reminder card for the second dose, got some information for getting an alert when that second dose would be available, and then got sent to the recovery area.

Again, I followed very clear markings on the floor to the second half of the arena floor. They wanted me to wait between fifteen and thirty minutes to make sure I didn’t have any adverse reactions. Once seated, a worker suggested that I take a picture of my reminder card in case I lost it. Good advice. After about ten minutes, I told them that I felt great and asked if I could leave. They double-checked that I felt okay, then they let me go.

I was then pointed to an exit from the arena floor which clearly led me through a few halls and kicked me out pretty close to the back of the parking garage where I left my car.

For me, the entire process took about half an hour, but it wasn’t very busy and everyone seemed to have their credentials in order which kept the lines moving quickly.

Though the sign up process proved to be a bit of a hiccup, I found the entire experience in the arena to be friendly, professional, well-organized, and appropriately paced. I honestly don’t have any complaints at all.

My thanks to all of the people who made it possible.

Have any other questions? Feel free to ask in the comments.

“Crisis,” My Short Story, Now At Podbean

As her husband nears death in a hospital, Holly argues with her daughter about whether he is alone or not.

Enjoy my short story, “Crisis,” now at Podbean, by clicking HERE.

Now Only Available To Read In Happy, Sad, Funny, Mad: Stories

An Open Letter To Political and Educational Leaders

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Before I begin, I’d like to state that I truly believe almost all teachers and administrators honestly want the best for their students. I cannot say “every” because I try not to deal in absolutes, but the vast majority of teachers and administrators with whom I’ve worked put the students first.

Educational leaders are in an impossible situation. They know that children need to be in school. It’s not a political responsibility, it’s not an economical responsibility, it’s simply a responsibility to the child’s well-being. Children need to grow socially, intellectually, and emotionally, and school is an exceptional place to do that. School is a place for children to exist independently from their parents or guardians and a place for them to find their own voice. Yet it is also a place filled with structure, routine, boundaries, and–perhaps most importantly–professional guidance.

However, school is impossible without teachers. We all seem to be forgetting that fact. Teachers are, right now, being asked to enter often poorly ventilated, overcrowded classrooms filled with children who are proven to carry the coronavirus. We are literally asking our teachers, many of whom are over forty years old, to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

I often hear the argument that grocery stores and doctors’ offices are open–schools can open, too. I think it’s important to remember that those are usually very well-ventilated environments with strict control over who and who cannot enter. If someone refuses to comply, they literally have a security force they can call upon. We took our child to the doctor the other day. We had to wait in the car until we got a text. Then, when the text came, we entered a side door, spoke to no one, and made our way directly to the patient’s room. We wore masks the entire time, as did the medical staff. It was an incredibly controlled, rigid system. My wife’s eye doctor even had a placard placed in her examination room stating the room is disinfected between patients.

Think back to your days in school. Do you really think children are going to stay six feet apart (even though most agree this will be impossible to accomplish in classrooms due to limited space and teachers). Do you really think schools are going to be able to force students to wear their masks correctly?

I’ve seen some plans where teachers are being told to wear a mask all day, disinfect desks between class periods, eat lunch with the same group of students in the classroom daily, prohibit shared material (like textbooks), stay six feet away from those students in the classroom (which will literally be impossible in many cases), enforce temperature regulation, and direct traffic in the hallways. This is on top of the daily lesson planning, teaching, grading, behavior management, parent contact, and meetings.

Furthermore, some schools are going all in, every student every day, while others are going half in-session and half remote learning. I have a child at the elementary level and then another child at the middle school level. The middle school is essentially going part-time, while the elementary level is going full time. Meanwhile, my place of work (a high school in a different district), is going all in, full time. This is an incredible burden on me both as a parent and as an employee. I’m being asked to leave my middle school child home alone for three days out of the week, find after school care for my elementary school child (which further bursts any already-lackluster bubble), and work full time in my own building. My middle school child is going to be isolated at home for many, many hours, which is dangerous at a physical, emotional, and social level, while my elementary child is unnecessarily being exposed to even more people. As a parent, I find this incredibly stressful.

If your child is next to a child who shows any of the numerous symptoms, your child is quarantined for several days. If your child’s teacher shows any of the symptoms, he or she is quarantined for several days. In some cases, an entire class could be quarantined for several days–perhaps as many as fourteen. This is all true for school buses as well. We are quickly going to run out of teachers, substitute teachers, and drivers. You’re going to be finding someone to watch your child as they keep getting quarantined when kids in their classes show symptoms. It’s going to get very chaotic, very quickly.

Though it’s not the popular solution, the most logical, rational, and safest decision is for all school districts to go 100% remote. Families can continue with whatever summer childcare they have in place, which will keep them within whatever bubble they’ve established. We can all start the school year off with a remote learning procedure in place. As it stands right now, schools meeting in-session will be doing so completely out of any previously proven routine, and will likely have to go remote within four to six weeks anyway. When that happens, many are going to be scrambling for childcare and trying to figure out remote learning anyway. Doesn’t it make more sense just to start off with 100% remote learning when we know it’s coming? Neither choice is easy–I understand that. There will be hardships even with 100% remote learning. This is obviously a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. Personally, I feel ensuring the physical health of our teachers and students must take priority.

As a nation, we have not done our part. As a nation, we’re not wearing masks, we’re not staying home, and we’re not establishing a bubble. People at my grocery store won’t even follow the arrows marked on the floor. We teach our students that behaviors have consequences. Guess what, America? 100% remote learning is the consequence of your behavior. Many have taken the necessary precautions, and it’s awful that those people must suffer the ramifications of those who haven’t been responsible.

Additionally, I fear this is further reinforcing the class divide. I hear more and more of my friends who are upper-middle class or upper class opting to keep their kids home in order to guarantee their safety. They will still have outdoor play dates, Facebook Messenger For Kids calls, trips to the park, and bicycle rides. Those parents, who are likely working remotely due to white collar, well-paying jobs, don’t have to think about it too hard. Meanwhile, lower-middle class families and low-income families don’t have a choice at all. If they don’t physically go to work, they don’t get paid. They literally cannot afford to do what they think is best for their kids–they have no choice in the matter. They will risk their lives, their children’s lives, and their extended families’ lives because they have to. This is the height of inequality.

It will take incredible bravery, morality, and willpower for school administrators to do the right thing and implement 100% remote learning at the start of the year. It will be incredibly hard. They will be ridiculed every step of the way. Many will question them at every opportunity. There will be several challenges, such as food distribution, guaranteeing WiFi, and providing services for those students with unique needs. However, in the long run, it will be what’s best for our children.

As for politicians, I suspect the most powerful of politicians never attended public school nor send their own children to public school, so they should stay out of it and let the experts–teachers and school administrators–work it out. I’m tired of politicians using our children as pawns in their political warfare and you should be, too. I was under the impression that they were here to serve us, but it seems to be just the opposite.

Are You Checking Your Child’s Grades?

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Whether COVID-19 has sent your life into utter chaos or perhaps simply a bit of disarray, chances are you’re forgetting to check on your child’s grades. I urge you to do so regularly.

Most school districts have an online grade book that allows family access. I’m sure your elementary and middle school teachers have communicated with you how to take a look at your student’s assessments, but if not, get in touch and ask. It is absolutely your right to keep up with your child’s grades.

Most high school students know how to check their grades using an online grade book, but that doesn’t mean they actually are. I suspect many high school students are checking out or in denial. They need your support right now, and that support will probably feel like nagging. Most adults have felt like shutting down and hiding under the sheets at some point during all of this. Teenagers feel that way, too, but they may not have the capacity to actually get over that feeling. They need you cheering them on, urging them on, or nagging them–whatever works.

Most districts have adopted a “do no harm” policy. This basically means that schools are focused on improving each and every student’s grade. If your student is currently failing, most teachers will be very accommodating with helping that student improve. It could be in the form of making up missing work, doing work over again, or perhaps even excusing some work and treating it as a “no count.”

Whatever the case may be, it starts with you checking in. I know life might be crazy for you right now. I know it seems like you might not have time to do that. I know it seems like it’s the students’ responsibility to keep up with their grades, or the teachers’ responsibility to notify you of failing grades, but it’s yours as well.

The schools want your child to succeed, the teachers want your child to succeed, your child wants to succeed, and you want your child to succeed. Let’s all work together to make sure that success is achieved.